Skip to content
Dog scratching dry skin

Got an itch? How to treat dog's dry skin in winter

Just like us humans, dogs can experience that tight and itchy skin feeling in the colder months. With summer now over, you may be wondering how you can treat your dog’s dry skin during the colder weather.


Luckily, at WOOOF, we have got you covered. We have done the research, so you don’t have to! In this article, you'll discover why your dog gets dry skin in winter, the warning signs, and ways to treat it.

Dog keeping warm
Matthew Henry via Unsplash

What is the cause of a dog’s dry skin in the winter?

Winter brings dry air and low humidity levels both outdoors and indoors. This is highly drying for the skin and so is mainly to blame for your dog’s dry skin during the colder months. 


In the summer, humid air makes the skin’s outer layer more permeable, so the skin absorbs water from the air. However, low humidity in the winter has the opposite effect. Moisture from the skin is drawn into the environment during a process known as Transepidemal Water Loss (TEWL) which is what causes your dog’s dry skin. 


When the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) becomes dehydrated, it turns fragile and more susceptible to harm. This leads to inflammatory and allergic dermatitis. Damaged skin barriers like this are also much more sensitive to everyday irritants like fragrances and dust mites. Dogs who are sensitive to indoor allergens such as dust mites and mould may have worse symptoms during the winter as they are indoors more often.

What are the symptoms of dog’s dry skin?

Dry skin can come with some uncomfortable symptoms for humans, and it’s no different for your dog either. Here are the most common symptoms of a dog’s dry skin:


  • Itching: Inflammation causes itchy skin. When your dog's skin is dry, their immune system will fight against harmful germs entering the damaged skin. This is why both dry skin and allergies can cause a dog’s skin to become itchy.


  • Flaking: Is your house starting to look like a winter wonderland thanks to your dog’s excessive scratching? The presence of flaky skin and dandruff is another sign your dog is suffering with dry skin.


  • Scaling: Skin with scales may present as tiny particles or big flakes, appearing dry or fissured. Flakes like these can attach to your dog’s dry skin because of inflammation, infection, or internal disease. Dry and cold weather conditions worsen this.


  • Redness and scabbing: If your dog’s skin is red, scabbing, or even swollen and warm to touch, it's likely they have dry skin. Low humidity in the winter can make inflamed skin like this worse.


  • Cracking: Cracked skin is very susceptible to infection, sensitisation, and bleeding. It’s also very painful for your poor pup and needs to be kept clean.

Dog in the snow
Daniel Lincoln via Unsplash

Your first instinct when you spot these symptoms may be to increase the number of baths your dog has to keep their skin clean and moisturised.


However, over-bathing can actually make your dog’s dry skin worse! This is because over-bathing will remove natural oils and dry out their skin even more. Plus, your go-to doggy shampoos and conditioners could be causing further irritation to your dog’s dry skin. Instead, aim to bath your dog every 4-6 weeks.

5 ways to treat your dog’s dry skin

Now you know the causes and symptoms, how can you go about treating your dog’s dry skin? 

1. Invest in a humidifier to aid your dog’s dry skin!

The ideal home humidity level is between 40% and 60%. If your home is too dry in winter, consider getting a humidifier to help your dog's dry skin. A humidifier will add moisture to the air and reduce your pup’s need to scratch! If you are also a dry skin sufferer, then it will be your first defence against it too!

2. Increase Hydration to treat your dog’s dry skin

Keeping your furry pal hydrated is crucial to ensure they have a healthy skin and coat. This is especially true if they are on a dry kibble diet. 


Dry food like kibble does not contain enough moisture so can be quite dehydrating for your dog. Fortunately, you can easily add moisture to dry food to promote good skin health. For example, products like Furr Boost are packed with nutrients and can be included in your dog’s mealtime to ensure they stay hydrated. You can also warm up these doggy smoothies to create a healthy soup for your dog in the winter.


Pawer Water is another hydrating supplement for dogs that is packed with active ingredients to boost hydration and wellness.


We also recommend food toppers such as Maxbone’s Energy Topper for Dogs which can be added to the top of your dog’s regular food to provide more nutritional value. It’s hypoallergenic and great for your dog’s dry skin.

3. Keep up regular grooming to prevent dog’s dry skin

Regular grooming should also be part of your daily routine to care for your beloved fur baby. It’s especially important during seasonal changes! Daily dog brushing reduces shedding and removes skin surface bacteria that can cause irritation to your dog's dry skin.


The Double-Sided Eco Bamboo Dog Brush helps separate tangled/matted hair and lifts up dirt and dust. Use the sisal bristle side of the brush to make your dog's coat extra soft and cuddly after brushing.

4. Use dog shampoo and conditioners that are suitable for dog’s dry skin

Many conventional dog shampoos and conditioners contain soap ingredients that can irritate your dog's dry skin. It’s best to opt for a shampoo and conditioner that is gentle and hypoallergenic.


WAP products like WAP: 6 Fur Wash Sensitive shampoo are mild, fragrance free, and PH-balanced. They are designed to treat sensitive skin and damaged dur, preventing itching and skin irritation. WAP sensitive shampoos are gentle, healing, and nourishing to support the skin’s natural protective abilities.


To treat a damaged skin barrier, dog grooming products such as “So, So Soft” Damaged Skin and Coat Keratin Spray are an excellent healing treatment for visibly damaged skin and coat. Through lysine which has a dermo-protective function, keratin sprays really help to improve skin health during the cold winter months. Similarly, Itch Relief Skin Balms help to soothe, heal, and relieve a dog’s dry skin. 

5. Introduce good supplements to improve dog’s dry skin

Good nutrition is key to ensure your dog is happy and healthy! Including anti-inflammatory omega-3 supplements in your dog's meals can greatly improve their dry skin and coat.


If your dog is currently on a dry kibble diet, then it’s likely they are not getting the recommended daily requirement of fatty acid. This is why it’s a good idea to add some Omega-3 into your dog’s life. To find out more about the benefits of Omega-3, hop over to our latest Omega-3 Ingredient Deep Dive!


Of course, always remember to contact your vet before making any changes to your furry friend’s diet! After getting your vet's approval, explore two of the top omega-3 rich oils we offer below.

Treating your dog’s dry skin this winter with WOOOF

Got an itch? Not anymore! We hope that this article has helped you prepare for the winter months. Dog sensitive shampoos, conditioners, and sprays are the best option to make sure that your dog's dry skin is not irritated.


Adding supplements such as Omega-3 or hydration smoothies into their diet can also help aid dry and itchy skin by keeping your pooch hydrated and happy. 

Previous article Top 10 dog products of the year based on your reviews!
Next article 10 Best Christmas Presents for Dogs